Joe Silva is a remarkably good matchmaker. He can take two guys you’ve never heard of, put them in the octagon and watch as they tear the house down. It’s a pretty rare thing that he misses when it comes time to put together a card.
But sometimes he hits an absolute home run.
For UFC on FX 2, he put together a headliner that is certain to clear the fence.
Welterweights Martin Kampmann and Thiago Alves are both known for putting on can’t-miss scraps, a pair of top-10 guys who come for war and usually end up spilling a little crimson. For fans of the standup game, this is about as good as it gets in MMA.
Both guys are also underrated grapplers, even if fans aren’t likely to see much in the way of a ground attack from either guy in Australia. Kampmann has perhaps the most underrated ground game in the division, and Thiago Alves holds a jiu-jitsu brown belt that really doesn’t get enough attention. Should they choose to engage there, it’s bound to be just as exciting.
But a big question heading into their meeting is whether or not they’re serious contenders at 170 lbs. Alves already had a crack at Georges St-Pierre and lost, while Kampmann has come close but been unable to get over the hump to get himself into the cage with the champ.
Realistically, any questions about the legitimacy of either man should be thrown out the window. Both have survived in the upper echelon of a wrestling-heavy division for years now, and they’ve done it with exciting fights and a penchant for producing entertaining violence.
All of Kampmann’s UFC losses have come to top-10 guys, and he was actually smashing guys as an undersized middleweight before he made the drop. Alves is in the same boat, with his most questionable UFC loss coming to Rick Story. They’ve both fought the best guys out there, and their winning percentages suggest that they are among the best guys out there.
With the welterweight division in flux, now is as good a time as any for the winner of Kampmann-Alves to make his push for gold. Interim champion Carlos Condit is planning on waiting for GSP to unify the titles, so whoever comes out ahead on FX could be matched up with Jake Ellenberger some time in the late summer with an eye on locking in the first contender for the winner of GSP-Condit.
Johny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck are also lurking, and could be involved in the matchmaking pyramid as well.
Regardless of how it all plays out, there is one certainty: whichever man survives the inevitable barnburner at UFC on FX 2 is definitely a contender. Be it Martin Kampmann or Thiago Alves, they’ll be fully deserving of a chance to talk title with a win.